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7 Types of Window Display

7 Types of Window Display

Window Displays are perhaps the most important element of a store’s overall visual merchandising scheme. They are the first point of contact between a brand and its customers and, as reported in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, they often lead passers-by to decide whether to venture inside a store or not.

Used correctly, they are an invaluable tool for generating interest in a brand and its products and set the tone for the retail experience that will be provided inside. Retailers of all types must have eye-catching window displays in order to drive traffic into their stores. They generate excitement amongst shoppers and can even attract attention from influential media publications enabling them to go viral online!

What type of window display is the best?

This is not a case of “one size fits all”. There are many different types of window displays, and none of them is inherently superior to the others. The most effective window display depends on the store in question – its sector, product offering, customer base, location, budget and so on. Retailers must think about the identity of their brand and the people they are trying to target before deciding on the best format for their window displays. Window displays generally fall into one of the categories listed below and each of these can be tailored according to a brand’s specific objectives and design preferences.

Open Window Displays

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In open window displays, there are no walls or screens behind the display itself meaning shoppers can see directly through it and into the store beyond. The ambience and activity within a store are allowed to flow into the window area and create excitement and intrigue amongst those walking by. This type of display is particularly effective for retailers that offer in-store experiences and invest heavily in visual merchandising campaigns on the shop floor. A challenge presented by some open-back window displays is that of exposed fixings and wiring. Any untidiness cannot be concealed from view and, unless managed carefully, can leave displays appearing messy or unfinished.

Closed Window Displays

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Unlike open displays, closed window displays have solid walls or screens that separate the display from the rest of the store. These walls can be permanent, architectural features of the store or temporary installations for a specific promotion. This type of display is an excellent choice if a brand wants to draw attention directly and exclusively to the products on display without distracting customers with other merchandising systems inside the store. Closed windows also offer retailers extra space in which to display products as shelves can be installed onto the wall used or for installing graphic displays and signage.

Semi-Closed Window Displays

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Semi-closed window displays allow passers-by to see some elements of the store whilst concealing others. They utilise a partition wall that, by only rising to a certain height above floor level, mixes the structured display provided by closed windows with the inviting feel offered by open windows. Affordable and customisable semi-permanent screens can be created with free-standing TFS frames and graphics.

Elevated Window Displays

Elevated window displays can be open or closed, but are always located above ground level. This means that the products featured might be sitting on a plinth or within a shelving system. They are a popular choice amongst retailers of cosmetics and luxury items as these tend to be smaller and therefore easier to overlook. By elevating products to eye level and illuminating them with strategic lighting, retailers can make sure that they catch the attention of passers-by.

Corner Window Displays

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These are located at the corner of a store where two exterior walls meet at an angle. They mean that people can view products from two sides and enable retailers to create a sense of depth and visual drama within displays. Additionally, they are an opportunity for retailers to capture the attention of shoppers approaching from multiple directions – something which can be aided by the use of spotlights, striking graphics and illuminated signage.

Island Window Displays

Island window display in River Island’s Bullring store.

Island window displays require large amounts of space and so are only seen within department, flagship and anchor stores. They are used to prevent displays from being lost within huge open spaces by bringing our attention directly to a select range of products. Island displays are typically built using a series of shelves and ‘float’ in the middle of open spaces, a unique feature that allows shoppers to walk around the entire display and see products from every angle.

Shadowbox Window Displays

Image source: Medium

Shadowbox window displays are normally smaller than other types of displays. They are box-shaped windows that sit in recesses within a storefront and are often used by jewellery and cosmetic retailers to draw attention to small, detailed products that would be lost if placed within larger displays. They help foster an intimate atmosphere as they are typically viewed by one person at a time.


Just as there any many different styles of shops in different locations and with different target markets, there are many different types of window displays. Each has its benefits and potential drawbacks, but each can be optimised using carefully considered visual merchandising techniques to maximise the number of passers-by it attracts.

Utilising high-quality lighting elements, illuminated signage and eye-catching graphics, window displays are one of the most effective ways of increasing footfall within a store.